Buckeye tree overhanging Big Darby Creek in Central Ohio.
Big Darby Creek Buckeye tree overhanging Big Darby Creek in Central Ohio. © Randall Schieber

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The Nature Conservancy Celebrates Investments in Water Quality and Natural Resources In Ohio’s 2022-2023 Operating Budget Bill

  • Bill Stanley
    State Director
    The Nature Conservancy in Ohio
    Email: bstanley@tnc.org

Early this morning, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signed into law House Bill 110—Ohio’s fiscal year 2022–2023 operating budget bill, which The Nature Conservancy (TNC) celebrates for its water quality and natural resource appropriations.  

The following statement can be attributed in full, or in part, to Bill Stanley, Ohio State Director for The Nature Conservancy:

“Investments in our lands and waters bring not only short-term benefits to Ohioans but also are down-payments on a healthier, stronger future for our children and grandchildren. We are pleased to see Governor DeWine and the members of the General Assembly recognize this important truth by making significant investments in the budgets of agencies and programs that work to protect our lands and waters.

We thank Governor DeWine for his strong proposal for H2Ohio funding over the next two years and are grateful that the General Assembly again expressed its bipartisan support for our state’s innovative H2Ohio program. This budget invests $168M over the next two fiscal years in the ongoing success of H2Ohio and will allow the agencies to continue to build on past efforts to improve our water quality by incentivizing farmers to reduce nutrient runoff, constructing new wetlands to filter nutrients from waterways, and funding important replacements to failing infrastructure. TNC has worked closely with the State of Ohio on the H2Ohio program and we look forward to engaging with the Governor and General Assembly to create a dedicated funding source for H2Ohio to ensure that this work continues into the future.

However, we are very disappointed to see the General Assembly significantly reduce Governor DeWine’s proposed funding for the EPA’s portion of H2Ohio to $10M. This is simply not enough to address the issues in the scope of the EPA’s important work through H2Ohio, which helps our most vulnerable rural and urban areas by replacing failing septic systems and lead water service lines. Now is not the time to reduce desperately needed assistance, and we must ensure that this program lives up to its promise to benefit all Ohioans no matter where they live.

We are also saddened to see that the final budget maintains disturbing language related to oil and gas leasing on public lands which states that it is the policy of the state to promote, develop and produce oil and natural gas on state lands, eliminates transparency from this process and accelerates the timelines for all state agencies to make public land available for oil and gas leasing. As our country moves forward to a lower-carbon economy, this is a step backward for Ohio.

We are similarly discouraged to note a provision that both requires the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) to pay local taxes in perpetuity on land that the agency has already purchased and specifies that these tax payments must come from specific funds within ODNR. While we understand the concerns of the affected localities, making them whole in this fashion will discourage ODNR from purchasing land in the future, leaving less public land available for all to enjoy.”

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries and territories: 38 by direct conservation impact and 34 through partners, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.